United Rugby Championship: Lions claim bonus-point victory over struggling Scarlets

Lions number eight Emmanuel Tshituka Credit: Alamy
Lions number eight Emmanuel Tshituka Credit: Alamy

The Lions picked up a 32-15 bonus-point win over the Scarlets in their United Rugby Championship match that took place on Sunday.

Victory moves the Lions up to fifth position in the standings while the Welsh region remain down in 15th after what is their seventh defeat of the season.

Sibhale Maxwane, Emmanuel Tshituka (2) and Jaco Kriel were the Lions‘ try-scorers in the Johannesburg clash, with Jordan Hendrikse and Alex-Zander du Plessis adding extra points off the tee as the South Africans claimed their fifth win from eight games.

For Scarlets, Dan Davis, Tom Rogers and Sam Lousi went over the whitewash, but those three crossings were all unconverted by the Welsh strugglers.

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Hendrikse had starred in Lions’ win over Dragons last weekend and he did not need long to get into his groove with a penalty sent over successfully in the sixth minute.

Scarlets had barely left their 22 by this point and it was no surprise when the hosts went over for a first try after 12 minutes.

It was Maxwane who produced an outstanding finish on his first start of the campaign but only after a sumptuous offload by Marius Louw, who had been tackled by opposite number Scott Williams.

Lowe’s brilliant pass still left Maxwane with plenty of work to do but the Lions speedster checked inside and out to fool Jonathan Davies and leave plenty of other Scarlets’ players trailing behind as he raced over the try-line.

An incredible last-ditch intervention from Lousi prevented further damage when he held up Sanele Nohamba by grabbing the shirt of the home scrum-half, who was a matter of yards from scoring but it was brief respite.

Tshituka powered over from close range with 20 minutes played after an excellent Lions scrum and Hendrikse added the extras on this occasion to make it 15-0.

Slowly but surely Scarlets began to impose themselves on the contest against their Southern Hemisphere opponents and after a try was chalked off for offside, Davis did dot down with eight minutes of the first half remaining.

A smart line-out saw Davis profit from a driving maul but Wales youngster Sam Costelow saw his difficult afternoon continue with another missed kick.

Costelow would also enter the sin-bin before the opening 40 minutes were up and another Hendrikse penalty made it 18-5 at the interval.

Vaea Fifita was forced off for Scarlets following a bang to the face early in the second period before they were denied a try when Ryan Conbeer was held up in the corner after Dane Blacker’s brilliant break.

It was not long before Lions turned the screw again with Darrien Landsberg claiming the line-out and finding the onrushing Kriel to go over for the hosts’ third score in the 55th minute.

Back came the visitors though with Rogers finishing impressively three minutes later to ensure a hard-fought final quarter would occur in South Africa.

A yellow to Hendrikse with 10 minutes to go raised further hope of Scarlets being able to close the gap but it was player of the match Tshituka who saved his best until last.

The number eight barged his way past Conbeer to go over but circled back round to jot down under the posts to leave an easy conversion for replacement Du Plessis.

Scarlets did have the final say on proceedings when Lousi crossed over with the clock in the red but it failed to prevent a fourth-straight URC loss for the Welsh outfit, who stay 15th while Lions are now up to fifth.

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